The Ultimate Road Trip Essentials You Shouldn’t Travel Without in 2023
Looking for the ultimate road trip essentials which ensure a safe, fun, and manageable road adventure? Voila! You have landed on the right page.
Road trips have become more popular nowadays. Although it varies from person to person, as an adventure lover I would say a road trip is more fun, more adventurous, more flexible that will offer you the pure essence of travel and an opportunity to explore the hidden gems of the country which you’ll never get to see if you fly.
Now the most important question is what to include in a road trip packing list? Actually, it depends on the destination, the number of days you’re traveling, the time of the year and, many other things.
So here in this road trip packing guide, we have listed certain essential things you must remember to pack for your next trip. We have kept this road trip checklist as minimal as possible while keeping comfort and enjoyment in mind.
You can also read our ultimate camping packing list if you are a die-hard camper.
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Road Trip Essentials for Cars
Whether you’re driving your own car or a rental car, you must remember to bring the following road trip car essentials with you.
- Driving license(The most important car trip essential)
- Car registration
- Insurance paperwork
- An extra set of car key(don’t keep it on the same key ring)
- Spare tires and tire jack
- AAA membership card and phone numbers for roadside assistance
- Emergency roadside toolkit
- Phone holder
- Car chain and snow kit(for a winter road trip)
Must-Have Road Trip Essentials for Self Care
Besides these road trip car accessories, you should have an emergency and basic things for yourself and other co-passengers. You will always want to be prepared for whatever obstacles you may face on your road trip.
Hydro Flask Water Bottle
It is one of the most important road trip necessities that will keep you hydrated on a long drive. The double-wall vacuum insulation keeps cold drinks icy cold and hot drinks piping hot any time, anywhere. Don’t waste money on packaged drinking water. Save Money, Save the Planet. You can fill this reusable hydro flask bottle whenever you get a chance.
Check out the best buying guide for travel water filters if you are planning to buy a water filter for travel.
First Aid Kit
Another must-keep long road trip essential is the first aid kit. You should carry this for a medical emergency. Sometimes you may get scraped up on a hike or feel car sick on a winding road when the closest town is 100km away. In such a case, a travel first aid kit plays a vital role. It came with great help when my hand got scraped against the rock during my Yosemite trip.
Your first aid box should have basic things like band-aids, bandages, antiseptic, gauze pads, Neosporin (antibiotic), pain killers(ie: Advil or Tylenol), and anti-motion sickness tablets(ie: Dramamine). Don’t forget to buy travel insurance before you leave.
Toiletry Bag with Hook
One item that must be added to your road trip packing list for families is a toiletry bag. A toiletry bag is essential to put all body hygiene and toiletry supplies. Pick up a few of these toiletry bags to keep everything close to hand in the same place.
Comfort is the key in a long road trip and packing versatile, durable clothing is highly recommended as a cross country road trip essential item. Make sure to dress in layers to adjust to any kind of weather. Sweatpants, leggings, tee shirts, and sweatshirts are highly recommended for a comfortable road journey.
A high-quality rain jacket made a huge difference while I was enjoying a short hike in Switzerland and suddenly it started raining.
Related Post: 10 Super Useful Hiking Shorts for Men and Women
It is a popular road trip accessory for people who love hiking. While shopping for hiking boots and shoes, make sure it is water-resistant, light, breathable, and comfortable. I used Columbia Men’s Newton Ridge waterproof hiking shoe in most of the popular hikes in southern California.
You can also read our ultimate list of best and cheap hiking boots with a comprehensive buying guide.
One of the most important items to add to your road trip packing list is hand sanitizer. It becomes a common thing after the 2020 pandemic. Make it a habit to sanitize your hand before eating anything. It will also help you when you are in touch with dirty shoes, baby wipes, or food rubbish.
Because you never know when you might see a lake, beach, or spring. I recommend packing some plastic bags to keep wet clothes separate from other items.
Read Next: 10 Best Beach Coolers to Enjoy Beach Vacation
Sunglass & Hat
Driving into the sunset can be pretty difficult when you’re staring straight into the bright sun lights for hours. Polarized Sunglasses with UV protection can save your vision and add a cool look to your outfit. Just think you are in a romantic getaway in the US and driving along the pacific coast highway with your partner sit beside you. LOL! 😛
Similarly, hats are also stylish and fashionable and protect you on an extra sunny day. You must add sunglasses and hats as long drive essentials.
During a road trip, a power nap is very very necessary to make yourself refreshed and relaxed for the long hours. Hence a travel pillow is an essential road trip item for those times when you are not driving. Your road trip will be more comfortable, safe, and enjoyable.
Sunscreen & Lip Balm
When putting together your road trip packing list, bring a sunscreen spray to protect your skin from getting tanned. You will not want to drive for hours with cracked lips. Bring a lip balm as well to protect your lips from dry weather.
Who loves messy hair? And, it is pretty common when you enjoy the wind but it creates the bird’s nest which is not fun at all. Include a mini hairbrush in your list of road trip essential for adult.
Essential Road Trip Food
Snacks are always good for a long road trip. I always keep a stock of energy bars or granola bars in the car. Bring some healthy foods like popcorn, apples, nuts, and crackers. It not only helps me in emergencies but also saves money on food while traveling.
Check Road Trip Food Strategy:
- I will recommend buying a cooler bag that is easy to carry and keep your stuff fresh.
- If you are on a long road trip and need more food storage for meals, consider a larger cooler and refill with food and ice at local grocery stores.
Here’s a list of road trip snacks that are delicious, healthy, and nutritious.
- Granola Bars
- String cheese
- Protein/Energy Bars
- Jelly sandwiches
- Dried Fruit and nuts
- Chocolate bars
- Fresh Fruit & Veggies
- Hard-Boiled Eggs
- Sliced Bread
Road Trip Packing List for Entertainment
Entertainment is very important on a road trip. Otherwise, you may end up with a boring road trip. Luckily, we have included some fun ideas in this list of road trip essentials.
Offline Music Playlist
Another necessary road trip essential is an awesome playlist for music. Trust me, it can make a whole lot of difference. Amazon Music Unlimited and Spotify offer millions of songs that can be grouped to create the best road trip playlist. Make sure to download your playlist onto your device to listen without an internet connection anywhere.
If you are a true music lover, you shouldn’t rely only on your car music player. I always prefer to carry a portable Bluetooth speaker. Be it a hotel room or around the campfire, a good soundtrack can change the ambiance of the place immediately. This JBL Clip is affordable, durable, loud, and most importantly waterproof.
Your road trip playlist may not be liked by others. You can buy a noise-canceling headphone of Bose to have a little bit of space for yourself. It is a little bit pricey, but worth it for peace and quiet.
Frustrated with your headphones for getting tangled? Buy wireless ones, that can be carried easily and take up very little space.
Related Post: 10 Best Headphones for Teens: The Ultimate Buying Guide
Kindle and Audiobooks
If you’d prefer audio stories, you can give a try to Audible that has massive libraries with free books as part of a free trial. Just buy a Kindle and purchase a few books or try Kindle Unlimited free.
The youngest member of your family may get bored on a long trip. Here are some travel games, best road trip essentials for kids. This will keep your kids entertained.
DSLR Camera & Portable USB chargers
Want to cherish the moments you spent on your road trip. Purchase a good DSLR camera and store all of your fun memory. I personally use Nikon D5600 with an 18-140 mm VR lens, an ideal travel camera for beginners. A portable USB charger can be a necessity to charge your laptop and phone in emergencies.
Read Also: 10 Best Lightweight Travel Laptops
Miscellaneous Road Trip Essentials
Road trips can be more adventurous if you plan to stay in tents instead of hotels and Airbnbs. Check out these family tents from Coleman which offer plenty of spaces. A Hybrid Carabiner Clip is also recommended to bring with your tent to hang things up or to clip your water bottles.
Battery Powered Heater
If you have a plan for camping or pitching your tent, a battery-powered heater can be very helpful in cooler months. Whether you are into van life or RVing, it is a very useful device in winter.
Flexite Camp Dreamer Chair
This compact folding camping chair is light, takes less space, and allows you to bring some home comfort out into nature. You can use it to relax after a long day hike or just enjoy the surrounding views sitting around a fire pit.
Essential Road Trip Apps
One of the most important items needed for a road trip is a navigation app, especially one with offline features. Google Maps, Maps.me, Weather, The Dyrt are very helpful travel apps you must download before any trip.
Cooking your own food is a great way to stay healthy and stretch your budget. Don’t overfill your trunk with unnecessary items. Here is my recommendation to include in road trip cooking essentials – tea kettle, nesting bowl, fuel cylinder, propane stove, coffee maker, reusable silicon bags, multi towels, and a Swiss knife.
Don’t act like fools. Keep enough cash with you while going on a road trip. Cash is still necessary for some places where the network is poor. You can quickly deal with parking meters and road tolls if you have cash in hand.
Road Trip Essentials for winter
If you are road tripping in winter, make sure your car(own/rental) is suitable for winter road conditions. You need to replace winter tires in countries like Canada. Include the following items in your winter road trip packing list.
- Snow Shovel
- Ice Scraper
- Boot with string grip
- Warm Coat
Road trips are awesome, it gives you freedom, fun, adventure, and flexibility. I hope you found this road trip essential guide helpful. Now, you know what to add to your road trip packing list. Let me know in the comments below if you found any other items that should be on this list.
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This is my official ultimate guide when going for road trips. Very informative!
Thank you Lillie. Hope it will help you on your next road trip.
Wow! So thorough! You took some great pictures, too!
I am glad that you liked the post. BTW, some pictures are taken from Flickr.
Such a great list of road trip essentials. Thanks for all the info.